Apple MacBok’s secret EFI magic to enable iGPU!

August 10th, 2017

Since some years I have a Apple 15″ Retina MacBook Pro that I mostly used with macOS. But as that becomes buggery and slower with each release I started to migrated back to my t2sde as primary desktop. One thing I noticed last year already, is that the EFI BIOS is switching off the Intel iGPU when booting anything else than macOS. A special and secret EFI protocol is required to authenticate as macOS and being worthy to leave the integrated graphics switched on. As this year it again did not work anymore, and it took a whole afternoon to find out, I made a short video covering the details:

Turned out, an EFI firmware update changed the protocol return value, so that the previous code would not call both protocol functions anymore, sigh!

If that is the new state of apple hardware and firmware design you probably want to thin twice if you want to get one, especially if you ever may want to run anything beside macOS, … :-/

N-Trig touch screens occasionally need re-calibration!

July 29th, 2017

Since I finally got the touch-screen and pen of my Surface Pro 3 working in Linux I noticed it sometimes generates random phantom touches, or dead zones. Turns out this touch screen’s firmware have some internal re-calibration mode that can be run in that case:

2017 - when not even your touch screens work reliably anymore :-/

hey, ALSA’s arecord has a vu-meter

July 14th, 2017

who knew?

arecord -f cd -d 0 -vv /dev/null

;-)!

best Linux screen capture settings of the day

June 23rd, 2017

ffmpeg -thread_queue_size 128 -f alsa -i default -f x11grab -isync -r 30 -ac 2 -s 1920×1080 -i :0.0+0,0 -vcodec libx264 -preset veryfast -pix_fmt yuv420p -acodec libmp3lame -ar 44100 -ab 192k -threads 4 -y Desktop.mp4

Update: w/ VAAPI e.g. for Intel’s QuickSync:

ffmpeg -hwaccel vaapi -vaapi_device /dev/dri/renderD128 -thread_queue_size 64 -f alsa -i default -thread_queue_size 64 -f x11grab -isync -r 30 -ac 1 -s 1920×1080 -i :0.0+0,0 -vf ‘format=nv12,hwupload’ -threads 8 -aspect 16:9 -b:v 12500k -vcodec h264_vaapi -af “lowpass=f=7000″ -acodec aac -ab 192k -threads 8 ~/Desktop/`date ‘+%Y%m%d-%H%M%S’.mp4`

This annoying Sony camers w/ AVCHD files

June 12th, 2017

To process them in Linux install fuse-exfat, mount the SD with:

mount.exfat-fuse /dev/sdb1 /mnt/

and convert the properitary container to a standard one:

ffmpeg -i /mnt/PRIVATE/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM/00001.MTS -codec copy myfile.mp4

Changing the Ethernet Mac address

June 7th, 2017

For fun or for profit:

sudo ifconfig en0 ether eb:ec:4a:9a:1e:b8

Of course choose your own truly random hex numbers ;-)

The miserable High Sierra install experience

June 7th, 2017

Apple just released the first macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” Beta. Actually I’m quite surprised of the lack of inspiration in naming. They switched from nice cat names, to boring California landmark names, only to go form Sierra to High Sierra? Is there nothing else more investing to name it? Also this results in rather poor google experience when you google for high sierra issues and one get’s overloaded with old Sierra stuff, … Maybe they are just too high in their Cupertino UFO spaceship these days, …

Anyways, the install experience, oh my, god, where should I even start. Why the heck can they not publish proper, good old installer disk images? And with this High Sierra Beta they reached a new sad point of annoyance. So first some “macOSDeveloperBetaAccessUtility.dmg” packages has to be downloaded (150k or so), after some system fiddling (btw, what exactly?) You get a “Install macOS 10.13 Beta.app” int the AppStore like with previous macOS versions. But instead of including all the installer image, it is only 5MB in size.

Starting that app does some Apple authorisation (again), think preventing Hackintosh’s, and then starts downloading the installer disk images into /macOS\ Install\ Data/, like InstallESDDmg.pkg.partial, and such.

So the problem will all this error prone steps is that the first time the download got stuck at some 4.8 GB. Restarting this stupid loader app wiped all the data and stated from scratch!!! :-/ So some hour and another 5GB wasted in the internet later, it rebooted the system just to tell me I would not have enough space. Wait what? It could not determine that before all the wasted time and data? And only offer to reboot, ..!

Guess what? At that point the f*cking installer thing again removed all the 5GB+ installer image from /macOS\ Install\ Data/ !!!!1!!!

So instead of me being able to plug in other external disk or whatever for installation. I now again need to wait an hour or two, and load the 5GB+ of data, again, and again.

Why do they have to re-implement this crappy, error prone downloader, when the App Store already has a download facility that may be more stable, continue stopped downloads and would also leave the installer image where it was for the next test install.

Each year the whole install procedure feel more like a hidden, user unfriendly labyrinth maze that you would expect from Microsoft in Windows, but not from a cleanly structured Unix kind of system we expect macOS to be.

Unfortunately it looks like Apple is giving up on this clean structure for the sake of making Hackintoshs harder thru obscurity.

Sad. Just so sad :-/

What’s up at Apple? Make UI great again!

May 9th, 2017

While traveling abroad the other day I needed to save bandwidth and download an SD video of an HD TV series season pass in iTunes. A long search of hidden easter eggs - but I finally found it:

Why do the companies need to change their UI so often, make things more difficult and hide in the least expected corners? Why can this not be simple, context options where one would expect it?

Dell XPS 13 9360 Developer Edition

April 10th, 2017

Last year Dell was so kind to send me the Intel Skylake based 15″ XPS 9550. As expected Dell recently refreshed the XPS series with the Kaby Lake generation of Intel’s platforms, and I could take a look on the refreshed silicon in the 13″ form factor.

The 13″ edition comes with the same light and sturdy carbon fibre, with a gentle silicone surface. As mentioned in last years post I like it for the thermal and electrical isolation. The same infinity edge display still optimises the size of the case, so that the 13″ display is effectively packed into the size of a conventional 12″ laptop. A really welcome light and compact travel companion.
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tcpdump IPv6

March 31st, 2017

tcpdump -i eth0 -v ip6